|Club as Player||Liverpool FC|
2019 09 29 Retrieve
[Who were Liverpool’s ‘Spice Boys’? That is a reputation that McAteer feels was unjustified] The fact is we were a very professional bunch of lads and didn’t deserve the reputation that the nickname gave us. We got it because people saw us as under-achievers who liked to go out. There was a social culture in football at the time. We were doing nothing more than the players at Arsenal or Manchester United
2019 10 06 Retrieve
[Jason McAteer claims Losing Roberto Firmino would be a bigger blow for Liverpool than seeing Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane ruled out] People have questioned Liverpool’s strength in depth and I don’t think it’s quite as strong as Manchester City, but there is cover in key areas. Take one of their star players out of the team and inevitably it has an impact - it would at any club. But Jurgen has been able to tweak things and bring in different players and look where they are.
The one player I think is indispensable going forward is Roberto Firmino. Forget Sadio Mane or Mo Salah, it’s Firmino who makes the whole thing tick going forward. I think if Liverpool lost Firmino it would have a bigger impact than losing Mane or Salah. Look at the Super Cup against Chelsea where Liverpool produced two completely different halves of football, the first without Firmino and the second with him. He’s a more important part of the attacking jigsaw than anyone else
[McAteer adding on those coming through the system and a home-grown star already established as a key man] Some of the current crop of kids look exceptional. Curtis Jones is coming through and Harvey Elliott, who’s only 16, looks fantastic, Adam Lewis is on the rise and there’s Rhian Brewster, plus others. They could all become first-team regulars and they only need to look at Trent Alexander-Arnold for evidence of that.
Trent was a centre midfielder who wanted to play centre-half and ended up on the right of defence. Nathaniel Clyne got injured and Trent got thrown in at the deep end and started swimming. [Nathaniel] Clyne couldn’t get back in and Trent has now won the Champions League and is probably England’s regular right-back and playing every game for Liverpool. And he’s still only 21. You need that little bit of luck to get in the first team and then show you can handle the pressure and I’m convinced a few of them will be able to do that
2019 10 18 Retrieve
[Jason McAteer says Roberto Firmino is as important to Liverpool as five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi is to Barcelona] They have had some great number nines and Roberto Firmino makes this side tick. Brendan Rodgers couldn’t work out where to play him when he was first at the club, trying him out on the left. Then Klopp came along with his 4-3-3 system featuring a hard-working midfield and explosive front three.
They needed a magician in that attack who pulls everything together and it is similar to how Lionel Messi has played in a Barcelona team set up around him. Firmino is Liverpool’s Messi. When he’s not in the team you can see how detrimental his absence is. He didn’t play the first half in the UEFA Super Cup but came on at the break and instantly made an impact as they created a lot of chances. The system suits Mo Salah and Sadio Mane but it is Firmino who makes it all work - without him, Liverpool are a different animal
Can they go the Premier League season unbeaten? I wouldn’t have a punt on it. There are too many games to go and it is still early in the season. The big question is if Liverpool can get over the line and win the title. They have roughly 15 games through November and December and have to go to Qatar for the Club World Cup. Their squad is just starting to be stretched a little at the moment and we are at the point where Klopp needs to start rotating regularly and really utilise his substitutes
2019 11 01 Retrieve
[Jason McAteer has tipped Rangers boss Steven Gerrard to leave his post at Ibrox and take the top job at Liverpool in two years] Steven Gerrard made a clever move going to Rangers to begin his management career - and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if stop two on his journey is Anfield. I’ve got an inkling that Gerrard will be the next Liverpool manager at the start of the 2021-22 season. I’m confident Liverpool will win the Premier League this season under Jurgen Klopp and then he’ll stick around to try to retain the trophy for another season. And whether he succeeds or fails, my hunch is that he’ll walk away at that point and Stevie will step into his shoes. With Stevie, he would be able to walk into a dressing room full of fabulous players and have an outstanding opportunity to continue Jurgen’s work
Of course, he would be given a lot of time by fans because of his reputation and his legacy. He would certainly look at what Frank Lampard has achieved at Chelsea, where he is doing a magnificent job. I’m sure Frank would tell you he hadn’t expected it to go this well but he always had the cushion of knowing he had time in the bank because of his status among the fans at Stamford Bridge
[Trent Alexander-Arnold has played a key role in Klopp’s starting XI at right-back once again, but McAteer feels he has all the attributes to covert to a midfield role] There are many commentators and ex-pros who believe Alexander-Arnold has a future in midfield for both Liverpool and England. I don’t doubt that the youngster could star in the Anfield engine room. Alexander-Arnold is enjoying a stunning start to the season and is rightly earning praise for some sublime performances. Don’t forget he turned 21 only three weeks ago
2019 11 17 Retrieve
[Jason McAteer says Liverpool and Manchester City are still involved in a two-horse race for the Premier League title] What Brendan Rodgers is doing at Leicester is outstanding and the job Frank Lampard is doing at Chelsea is probably even more impressive. I remember speaking to Frank when Chelsea and Liverpool played the Super Cup in Istanbul and you could hear his concerns. Where were the goals going to come from? Could Mason Mount do for Chelsea what he had done for Derby? Would he miss Antonio Rudiger? But he and his players have answered all those questions and more. I’m a big fan of Frank and think Chelsea can continue to improve but they aren’t title contenders this season
Teams such as Chelsea and Leicester could easily go on a run of back-to-back losses, or picking up just a couple of draws in three matches, and that can lose you serious ground given the high standard set by Liverpool and Man City.
2019 11 28 Retrieve
[Jason McAteer says Liverpool aren’t getting bored with winning] We’re not getting bored with winning, but because there are no major flaws, we are asking ‘What could be better? Where can they improve?’ And this season we have ridden our luck a number of times and taken the clock to the 94th minute to get results - Aston Villa springs to mind, Sheffield United as well. We’ve had to come from behind to win. As good as that is for what it says about your mental strength, it can be a concern. You feel that that game is coming where you don’t actually get over the line and we drop two points or even three
[McAteer added on the back of a 1-1 Champions League draw with Napoli on Wednesday] Clean sheets have been a problem. The foundation of a good performance is a clean sheet and we were fantastic at that last season, limiting teams’ opportunities. Partly this time round we have been conceding sloppy goals and making silly mistakes, which is down to lack of concentration at times. But also the Premier League these days is full of good managers and coaches who analyse everything and identify any area of weakness. In Liverpool’s case it may be a tendency to go for the jugular and to want to mix it with teams instead of sitting back. Some teams have had joy because of that
Until the new owners and Jurgen arrived, we wondered about the direction the club was going in. There was instability, different managers, players coming and going, but it has moved forward in a new direction. There are some great people running the club at the moment. They have respected the history and the legacy. It would have been easier for them to have bought a plot of land and built a new super stadium but they realised that the history is there in front of the Kop, where titles have been won. It was sad to see the old main stand go but I have played on the pitch again in legends games and it is still Anfield even though that new stand is so massive. That is a job well done because you can lose an identity so easily. The last three-and-a-half years under Jurgen have been brilliant - the style of football, the recruitment and the ambition. But not only are we pushing consistently for titles, some of the games we have seen will stay with us forever
2019 12 14 Retrieve
[Jason McAteer says Red Bull Salzburg’s Takumi Minamino is a perfect fit for Liverpool] If Liverpool are planning to make a move for Salzburg’s Takumi Minamino then I think it’s a perfect fit. They’ve seen the Japanese star up close and personal in the Champions League and, like me, they’d have been impressed. In the first game between the sides, the 4-3 win, Minamino was absolutely integral in Salzburg’s second-half improvement. He played in little holes, was quite clever and was a bundle of energy. He scored, taking his chance really well. He was probably their most impressive player on the pitch that night and in the return, he was a constant thorn in Liverpool’s side. Klopp is not one of those managers who wants to go and spend 70, 80, 90 million pounds on superstars - he likes players he can work with and make better and I think it would be a really good signing at the price. He would certainly strengthen the squad. I wouldn’t say he’s going to displace any of the front three but if I was looking to throw someone on for half an hour with the energy and the brain he’s got, he’d be perfect
2020 01 03 Retrieve
[Jason McAteer says A move to Liverpool for Jadon Sancho would be brilliant for him and the club] I doubt Jurgen Klopp feels under any pressure to make any more moves in the transfer window though if there’s one player I’d love to see him bring to Anfield, it’s Jadon Sancho. Sancho looks like a Jurgen Klopp type of player. He’s young, immensely talented, looks ideally suited to the system which Klopp plays and would be learning off one of the top coaches in the world.
Good managers take good players to the next level. Look at Raheem Sterling at Manchester City. Sterling might not have naturally bought into Pep Guardiola’s unique philosophy but he has and the upshot is that this once erratic talent is now one of the finest players in the Premier League. Klopp has a similar aura and Trent Alexander-Arnold is a classic example of a player who has flourished under the German where he may very well not have done under someone else. Sancho at Liverpool would be brilliant for him and the club. He could play anywhere along that front three and looks a genuinely class act
2020 01 17 Retrieve
[Jason McAteer says Mohamed Salah could be itching to change things up] I can absolutely understand why Real Madrid would consider making a move for Sadio Mane in the summer - and I could understand if Mane was tempted. Real Madrid aren’t quite the force of old but they are still a glamour club and would turn heads. It’s partly a cultural thing, partly a football thing, partly just being a new challenge for a player who, if Liverpool win the league this season, will have achieved all the big goals
So it’s whether Mane wants a new challenge, while the challenge facing Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp is ensuring the players are hungry to go again just as they were this season after being crowned European champions. Pep Guardiola has had to try to re-energise his team after two title wins and he’s found it tough but it’s something that Jurgen is brilliant at.
What I would say is that if Mane went I’d worry that it might be the start of things breaking apart because he’s absolutely at the top of his game at the minute and would take some replacing. He’d be harder to replace than Mo Salah in my eyes. But we know the really big teams are out there trying to get better and under pressure to entice the best players on daft money. I actually think Sadio Mane is quite happy to stay at Liverpool although I can see Mo Salah itching to change things up, if not next summer then next season
2020 01 19 Retrieve
[Jason McAteer feels Mohamed Salah more likely to leave Liverpool this summer than Sadio Mane] I can absolutely understand why Real Madrid would consider making a move for Sadio Mane in the summer - and I could understand if Mane was tempted. Real Madrid aren’t quite the force of old, but they are still a glamour club and would turn heads
It’s whether Mane wants a new challenge, while the challenge facing Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp is ensuring the players are hungry to go again just as they were this season after being crowned European champions. What I would say is that if Mane went, I’d worry that it might be the start of things breaking apart because he’s absolutely at the top of his game at the minute and would take some replacing. He’d be harder to replace than Mo Salah in my eyes. But we know the really big teams are out there trying to get better and under pressure to entice the best players on daft money. I actually think Sadio Mane is quite happy to stay at Liverpool although I can see Mo Salah itching to change things up, if not next summer then next season
The game will be different at Anfield. Everyone’s talking about wanting to batter United and put them in their place and if the players come out with that mentality and that attitude, start quickly, get a goal, it could be a long afternoon for United. I reckon Liverpool will win 3-0 because we are keeping clean sheets for fun
2020 01 24 Retrieve
[Jason McAteer says Jurgen Klopp walking away from Liverpool before the end of his contract would be no surprise] He has a team around him, Melwood is locked down, you can’t get into it. It’s the hub. No [I wouldn’t be surprised if he walks away]. It wouldn’t surprise me, it wouldn’t surprise me at all. I just think there’s burnout. The passion he puts into it, the effort he puts into it, it’s all the time.
I’ve been on tour with them before, he can’t move. He can’t go out the hotel, he’s meeting potential partners, he’s going to dinners, they’re putting things on, it’s constant. The partnership side of the club, when they come in and they want something, they want to get their name out there, who do they put on the front? Out of all the players, first it’s Mohamed Salah, then it’s Klopp. Before Roberto Firmino, before Virgil van Dijk, before Sadio Mane, it’s Klopp
[McAteer believes Klopp will look to start shuffling his pack once another trophy is tied up] Going unbeaten would be nice, but as I say we’ve got some great kids coming through, as you saw against Everton in the FA Cup. Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliot, Adam Lewis is in there as well. I think Jurgen would love to give them some Premier League experience. If we were to win the league by the middle of April, he would let them go
2020 02 14 Retrieve
[Jason McAteer says Philippe Coutinho once served a purpose at Liverpool and was a great player] A move back to the Premier League for Philippe Coutinho doesn’t sound too ridiculous but I disagree with those suggesting there’s a place for him back at Anfield. Coutinho served a purpose at Liverpool and was a great player for a period of time - but that time has gone. Barcelona came calling and as a South American superstar I absolutely understand why that would look such an attractive move
So he wanted away and started to sulk a bit and eventually he went in what turned out to be a superb piece of business for the club, far better than Liverpool would have hoped for. He would still grace the top clubs in Europe, as he’s showed at Bayern Munich where he’s done okay - but he needs to be the centre of attention. That wasn’t the case at Liverpool and certainly wasn’t the case at Barcelona.
I could see him slotting in perfectly at Chelsea, where Frank Lampard is doing unbelievable things trying to reboot that club using a lot of young talent bedding in alongside some experienced stars. Coutinho would feel really comfortable in the number 10 role at Stamford Bridge with the protection of [N’Golo Kante](n-golo-kante.html) and Jorginho and an array of young frontmen around him who would thrive working off him. The sticking point, of course, is that Barcelona would want silly money for him and I’m not sure Chelsea or Manchester United or Spurs would be prepared to break the bank to get him
2020 02 14b Retrieve
[Jason McAteer says it would be a surprise to see Mohamed Salah to Olympics] Klopp’s job, first and foremost, is to protect his players at all costs and he will want all his players back for the whole of pre-season. And given that he has complained, rightly, about the demands of the fixture schedule then he will do everything to make sure Mo Salah is with Liverpool in the summer.
Klopp isn’t the only one who will want him there. Salah is a marketing dream and the club’s owners will definitely want him to fly the flag for the brand on any pre-season tours. Yet I still sense that there’s going to be a difficult conversation to be had between Klopp and Salah over whether the Egyptian goes to this summer’s Olympics. We don’t quite get it because the Olympics to us doesn’t seem like a major tournament. But to other countries it’s absolutely massive and I dare say Egypt are included in that number. Of course, Mo is an absolute god out there so they would absolutely want him to be in Tokyo on their behalf.
It would be slightly hypocritical of Klopp to give Salah his blessing given the manager’s views on rest and playing too much football, but equally it’s not worth risking a fall-out with a player who every club in the world would want. It’s a sensitive subject and I sense we haven’t heard the last of it - but personally I’d be surprised if he goes to Tokyo
2020 02 28 Retrieve
[Jason McAteer says Virgil van Dijk and Alisson are the only two players at Liverpool who are irreplaceable] There are only two players in the Liverpool team who are irreplaceable - Virgil van Dijk and Alisson. Take either of those two out of the starting 11 and Liverpool are instantly weaker. Take anyone else out, however, and it’s a different story - and even though I am a massive fan of his, that includes Jordan Henderson.
Jurgen Klopp has so much cover in all areas that he can afford to lose key men for periods. When he lost Fabinho earlier in the season I remember the gasps and there were plenty of people saying he’d lost the most important cog in the midfield, the heartbeat of the team. Well yes, he was a miss - but have a look at the league table. I never doubted that Jordan Henderson could take on the Fabinho role because he’d done it successfully before and he didn’t let anyone down. And since then, of course, Jordan has become an absolutely central part of the team - but not irreplaceable. At least, not in terms of his playing ability
Where Jordan is missed - and we saw that against West Ham - is in terms of leadership. I thought Liverpool were in second gear during the first half against West Ham and Jordan Henderson would not have allowed that to happen. Henderson doesn’t always have the best of games and people are always quick to point fingers when that happens, but that’s not appreciating his value. When it comes to desire and character that’s when he steps up. And while there are some big characters in that dressing room, no one is bigger than Jordan Henderson.
2020 03 13 Retrieve
[Jason McAteer says Klopp’s front three require support] I actually think this is burn out and Klopp needs to address it as a matter of urgency. This has been building and no one who watches Liverpool every week should be surprised. They go off at 100 miles an hour from the first whistle of the season and they’ve been doing this since 2015 under Klopp. The rewards have been plentiful and wonderful - they were champions of Europe last season and are soon to be champions of England as well. But there’s a trade-off to be had and you cannot keep going at that pace. At some point this was going to happen. You accept a Klopp team will not change in terms of approach and style. But this particular team cannot keep doing it, this front three is on the brink and has to change. And that means that this summer is the time to bring in the likes of Jadon Sancho and Timo Werner. The first thing they’ll want is guarantees that they’ll be getting game time in among Liverpool’s trio of superstars but if I was Klopp I’d be telling them you’ll get more minutes than you think. The solution to the front three is not to break it up immediately but Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino can’t go on forever so this summer Klopp has to be planning for the next stage. And also, they are getting found out. Liverpool’s front three have got a way of playing and teams are now figuring out how to defend against them.
2020 05 08 Retrieve
[Former Liverpool player Jason McAteer says he is concerned that people will congregate at Anfield to celebrate a Reds title if the Premier League opts to return in home stadiums and not neutral venues] Just before lockdown, my worry about Liverpool being so close to mathematically winning the title was that crowds would have built up outside Anfield, especially if the league had continued in empty stadiums. If Liverpool had won the league at Anfield with nobody inside, it’s understandable why some believe many thousands might have shown up outside the ground to celebrate. Everyone’s been waiting for this moment for 30 years, there’s been all the build-up, it was almost confirmed, everyone was on a high and nobody wanted to miss out. There would have been a lot of people out on the streets to celebrate. Even though we’re all more knowledgeable on the virus now, that could still happen. So one way to avoid that problem would be to stage games in neutral venues, I can get behind that. From a Liverpool perspective, if they were to continue their games at Anfield and win the title there, people will congregate. It would be impossible to police. From a safety point of view, we can’t risk that
We’ve all got opinions on how we think things should move forward but ultimately the number one priority has to be the safety of the people. But every way we look at it there are advantages and disadvantages to be had. For me, the best solution is 90-minute matches in a neutral venue, even if it has to be played out in a World Cup-style velocity where everyone plays every three days or so over a five-or-six-week period. If we’re going to finish the season, that is the only way it can be done, as far as I’m concerned
[When asked about Gordon Taylor’s proposal to reduce 45-minute halves] You might as well say let’s have a 5-a-side competition, 10 minutes each way, and you can have a club legend playing as well. You can’t change the game rules like that, it stains the integrity of the game. We are where we are, but you’ve got to play it out as close to the regulations as is safe, if you play it out at all. I can’t get on board with changing the length of the games, it’s just unfair
2020 05 30 Retrieve
[Jason McAteer says Mbappe is not a good fit for Liverpool, he’s not Klopp’s kind of player] You can’t stand still, you need to evolve. From a manager’s perspective, always trying to stay two, three moves ahead. It’s Jurgen’s job to visualise what he sees next season, preparing for upcoming seasons. PSG are a unique club, desperate to win the Champions League, put a fantastic squad together, [but] players want a bigger challenge. The Mbappe one for me doesn’t sit quite right - a superstar in his own right, [but] not the right time to come to Liverpool. [I’m] not sure he’s Jurgen’s kind of player. At the minute, just not for me. I’d rather see Werner or Sancho. We could see him [Mbappe] at Liverpool because he fits for different reasons, but for football, I just don’t know that he fits at this current time
2020 06 27 Retrieve
[Liverpool are unlikely to land Kai Havertz or Thiago Alcantara in the next transfer window] Takumi Minamino has come in but it looks as if Xherdan Shaqiri and Adam Lallana are going to leave so others are going to have to step up. But who? That’s the problem. No agent will need any encouragement to link their players to an Anfield move - I’m sure Timo Werner’s people were making a lot of the running when there was talk of him joining the club - but are they going to play regularly? Talk of Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz arriving at the club therefore seems unlikely. Liverpool broke records to sign Alisson and Virgil van Dijk, but the rest of the team were not necessarily signed for huge fees. They haven’t gone about their business that way and I don’t see it happening
And it is going to be a big year with the Euros at the end of the season, so top players are going to want to play regularly, something that Klopp is not able to provide for everyone. There has been a lot of talk about Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara joining but defensive midfield is an area of strength with Jordan Henderson and Fabinho, so a move for him might not be the way forward. One main area they have to look at is left-back. Andy Robertson has been outstanding but they have had to rely on James Milner playing there when Robbo hasn’t been available. That’s obviously not Milner’s preferred position and Sadio Mane always looks more comfortable when he is playing in front of Robertson. But they don’t need much more and I think it is about getting the right people into the club who are going to fit in with the culture